The Senate fund-raising hearings will wind down sooner than expected - most likely within three weeks - to pave the way for floor consideration of a bipartisan campaign-finance-reform bill, which has little chance of passing.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which was given a charter to hold hearings through Dec. 31, has decided to turn its focus away from illegal and improper campaign fund raising to spend the next three weeks on the role of tax-exempt, nonprofit interest groups in politics.
The change in course coincided with efforts by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, to get a Senate vote on their campaign-finance-reform bill.
Mr. McCain said last night that he has talked with Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate investigative committee, about moving as soon as possible to focus on the issue of "soft money" in order to generate public outrage before the McCain-Feingold legislation hits the Senate …